Collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) characteristics, habitat, reproduction, feeding

Simon Doyle

The Peccary tajacu, Popularly known as collared peccary, cinched báquiro, bush car or saino, it is a mammal similar to the pig that has a thick and warm coat, of a color similar to a mixture of "salt and pepper", with a white "collar" characteristic around the neck.

In some places they are also known as "musk pigs", as they are very smelly animals, due to the presence of a musk gland at the distal end of their spine and on the face, near the eyes..

Photograph of a collared peccary (Peccari tajacu) (Source: Carlos Delgado / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons)

It is a native animal of the American continent, whose distribution is extremely wide, and can be found in the United States, Mexico and a large part of Central America and practically all of South America.

It occupies habitats as different as a desert and a tropical rainforest, making it a very “flexible” animal species when it comes to eating habits. Its meat serves as food for many rural communities and is a victim of sport hunting, especially in the United States..

It is currently on the list of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, from English International Union for Conservation of Nature), although it belongs to the group of “least concern”, since there are still large populations in various regions.

Article index

  • 1 Features
  • 2 Taxonomic classification
  • 3 Habitat and distribution
    • 3.1 Habitat
    • 3.2 Geographical distribution
  • 4 State of conservation
    • 4.1 What conservation actions are taken in relation to this species?
  • 5 Playback
  • 6 Food
  • 7 Behavior
    • 7.1 Social hierarchy
    • 7.2 Seasonal behavior
  • 8 References


The collared peccary is a small mammal, similar to a pig or, rather, a wild boar.

Skeleton of a collared peccary (Source: Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP / name of the photographer when stated / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons)

- It has a long snout, like that of a pig.

- His head is large compared to the rest of the body, as well as his shoulders.

- Has short legs and hoofed feet.

- It measures almost 1 m long and 0.5 m high, and can weigh up to 30 kg.

- Their fur is thick and warm, generally greyish and brown in the neck and face regions, especially near the eyes and forehead..

- Around the neck it has a white or yellowish “collar”, of a lighter color than the rest of the fur; It is because of this necklace that it is known as a "collar peccary".

- Males and females are very similar in size and color, but young and juveniles are usually of a lighter coat, such as brown or yellowish, with a black line along the entire back or back..

- It has small straight fangs that serve as instruments of defense.

- At the end of its rump (the last portion of the spine) and on its face, near its eyes, it has a musk gland that it uses to identify members of its group and mark their territory..

Taxonomic classification

  • Eukaryote
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata (chordates)
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata (vertebrates)
  • Class: Mammalia (mammals)
  • Order: Artiodactyla (even pointed ungulates)
  • Family: Tayassuidae (peccaries)
  • Gender: Peccari
  • Species: Peccari tajacu (collared peccary)

Habitat and distribution


The collared peccary is widely distributed in the American continent. In North America it is very common in semi-desert areas with many bushes or where there are rocky canyons; although some populations are associated with water sources such as rivers and marshes.

In Central and South America, however, they are common in tropical rainforests and, over the years, have become relatively common in some residential areas, where they depend on humans for food..

Therefore, it is a very "plastic" or "adaptable" mammal species, as it can occupy quite different habitats..

Geographical distribution

In the United States (USA) it is found in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is found in much of Mexico and Central America, also along the Amazon River basin, in the forests of the Pacific Ocean coast of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

It is found in the lowlands and plains of Venezuela, in the Guianas, in Suriname and practically in all of Brazil, although lately its populations have been fragmenting towards the south and east of this country.

A running collared peccary (Source: Wing-Chi Poon / CC BY-SA ( via Wikimedia Commons)

It also lives in the “Gran Chaco”, shared by Paraguay, Bolivia and northern Argentina, where it is also close to the upper basins of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers..

However, in Argentina it is believed that the species has become extinct, with respect to its original distribution, in the eastern and southern portions of the country. The Argentine populations of collared peccaries in the province of Misiones are isolated from the rest of the country.

The collared peccary is also found on some islands in the Caribbean Sea close to mainland, such as Trinidad and Tobago, for example..

State of conservation

The collared peccary is included in the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). International Union for Conservation of Nature), although for 2011 this was classified as a kind of “least concern”.

However, the main threats to these animals have to do with the destruction of their natural habitats and sport hunting, which is particularly common in the southeastern United States and which, on some occasions, can be excessive, so it could require more monitoring.

In the Peruvian Amazon, the meat of this animal serves as sustenance for many hunters and, therefore, its hunting is considered "legal" defined for settlements of populations with less than 3,000 inhabitants..

What conservation actions are taken in relation to this species?

Since the collared peccary is widely distributed in the American continent, it inhabits many national parks or nature reserves, where their populations are relatively "safe.".

The main conservation measures that are taken in relation to this species include national legislatures for the protection of wildlife, which may be different from one country to another..

In addition to the inclusion of this species and other similar species in the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITE) Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Therefore, there are specific regulations concerning the hunting and trafficking of products derived from these animals in all the countries that cover its geographical range..

- In the United States, outside national parks and forest reserves, collared peccary can be hunted for sport with special permits and within certain limits..

- Hunting is completely prohibited in Brazil, especially by indigenous peoples, although law enforcement efforts appear not to be overly exhaustive..

- Colombia and Venezuela have laws that allow the hunting of these animals for subsistence purposes (as food), but that prohibit the trafficking of animals or their derived products..

- In Peru, on the other hand, hunting for food and trafficking or trade are allowed within the limits of the law, although both in rural Peru and in other Central and South American areas, people do not have much information about these. regulations.


Collared peccaries do not have a specific season to reproduce since mating can occur throughout the year, although many times it depends on the weather, especially rain (the juveniles are bred during the wettest seasons).

Normally, in a herd there is a dominant male who is in charge of the mating. The “subordinate” males are not obliged to leave the herd, but they cannot approach the females during heat..

After sexual reproduction, each female goes through a gestation period that lasts between 141 and 151 days (more or less 5 months), giving birth to between 1 and 4 young. In this short video you can see a female and her young in their natural habitat:

When females do give birth, they do so in isolated places from the rest of the herd and stay away for a day or two, thus preventing other members of the herd from eating their young. Their social behavior implies that only the older “sisters” are close to the newborns, since they can serve as “babysitters”.

The young are fed mother's milk for 2 to 3 months, after which they are weaned. Males reach their reproductive age at 11 months, while females can be fertile between 8-14 months.

Although they have high mortality rates, individuals in a peccary population can last up to 24 years (data acquired from animals in captivity).


The collared peccary feeds mainly on fruits, seeds and nuts, berries, cacti, and herbs. However, they can also eat fungi that they dig up from the ground, as well as roots and bulbs, for which their snout is especially useful..

They can occasionally feed on insects, amphibians, and reptiles. They are very attracted to agave and cactus prickly pears, in fact, from there they obtain an important part of the water they need to live.

They have a fairly complex digestive system, very similar to that of ruminants from an anatomical and physiological point of view, which allows them to eat foods rich in cellulose without the need to chew too much.

In tropical forests, their diet is usually dominated by the fruits of some species of palms (up to 25 different species) and they "supplement" it with some small vertebrates and invertebrates..


Collared peccaries are very sociable animals and they usually make a lot of noises, that is, they emit sounds such as "barking", grunting, purring, coughing, among others..

This is because they have a very good sense of hearing, but a poor sense of vision, so they rely on their vocalizations to communicate with each other..

Social hierarchy

They are animals that almost always walk in groups, which are known as "herds". Members of the same herd recognize each other thanks to the smell that their musk glands expel, which, in addition, they also use to mark their territory.

These herds have a kind of "hierarchical organization" and are made up of 5-30 members, who have very close social relationships with each other. These herds can occupy up to 150 ha (hectares), although this land occupation can vary between 24 and 800 ha.

They are generally quite scary animals and flee quickly when threatened, although on rare occasions they remain in a defensive "position", displaying their fangs to intimidate whoever threatens them, which may be a predator or a member of another herd (they are territorial animals)..

Seasonal behavior

During the summer, when the temperatures are too high, the collared peccary is much more active at night, when it is a little colder. Its diurnal behavior consists, then, of looking for bushes or caves to hide from the sun and stay cool..

Since they do not withstand temperatures that are too low (cold), members of the same herd can be found in caves, "shoulder to shoulder" to keep warm, so they are much more active during daylight hours..


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  3. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). (2016). The IUCN red list of threatened species. Version, 2016-3.
  4. Montes Pérez, R. C., Mora Camacho, O., & Mukul Yerves, J. M. (2012). Forage intake of the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu). Colombian Journal of Livestock Sciences, 25 (4), 586-591.
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  6. Rainforest Alliance. (2006). Retrieved April 12, 2020, from
  7. Tree of Life Web Project. 2006. Pecari tajacu. collared peccary, javelina. Version 23 February 2006 (temporary).

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